BACKGROUND: NHS Health Check is a national cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk assessment programme for 40-74?year olds in England, in which practitioners should assess and communicate CVD risk, supported by appropriate risk-management advice and goal-setting. This requires effective communication, to equip patients with knowledge and intention to act. Currently, the QRISK®2 10-year CVD risk score is most common way in which CVD risk is estimated. Newer tools, such as JBS3, allow manipulation of risk factors and can demonstrate the impact of positive actions. However, the use, and relative value, of these tools within CVD risk communication is unknown. We will explore practitioner and patient CVD risk perceptions when using QRISK®2 or JBS3, the associated advice or treatment offered by the practitioner, and patients' responses. METHODS: RIsk COmmunication in NHS Health Check (RICO) is a qualitative study with quantitative process evaluation. Twelve general practices in the West Midlands of England will be randomised to one of two groups: usual practice, in which practitioners use QRISK®2 to assess and communicate CVD risk; intervention, in which practitioners use JBS3. Twenty Health Checks per practice will be video-recorded (n?=?240, 120 per group), with patients stratified by age, gender and ethnicity. Post-Health Check, video-stimulated recall (VSR) interviews will be conducted with 48 patients (n?=?24 per group) and all practitioners (n?=?12-18), using video excerpts to enhance participant recall/reflection. Patient medical record reviews will detect health-protective actions in the first 12-weeks following a Health Check (e.g., lifestyle referrals, statin prescription). Risk communication, patient response and intentions for health-protective behaviours in each group will be explored through thematic analysis of video-recorded Health Checks (using Protection Motivation Theory as a framework) and VSR interviews. Process evaluation will include between-group comparisons of quantitatively coded Health Check content and post-Health Check patient outcomes. Finally, 10 patients with the most positive intentions or behaviours will be selected for case study analysis (using all data sources). DISCUSSION: This study will produce novel insights about the utility of QRISK®2 and JBS3 to promote patient and practitioner understanding and perception of CVD risk and associated implications for patient intentions with respect to health-protective behaviours (and underlying mechanisms). Recommendations for practice will be developed. TRIAL REGISTRATION: ISRCTN ISRCTN10443908 . Registered 7th February 2017.